There have been renewed efforts to prevent the construction of Shell’s high-pressure gas pipeline and onshore refinery in county Mayo following the imprisonment of local environmental campaigner, Maura Harrington.
Harrington was arrested on her way home from a funeral and was brought to Mountjoy women’s prison in Dublin for refusing to pay fines relating to ‘offences’ while protesting against Shell’s experimental gas scheme.
It was Harrington’s fifth detention as a result of her activism. Her most recent spell in Mountjoy was only last December.
Harrington was released after four days. However, other Shell to Sea activists, Pat ‘the chief’ O’Donnell and Niall Harnett are still serving sentences in Castlerea prison as a result of their resistance to Shell.
Condemning the latest arrest and jailing of Harrington, eirigi Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said that the timing of her arrest was deliberate.
“Once more, the Gardai are doing the dirty work of Shell. As with the jailing of Maura on previous occasions, and with Pat O’Donnell and Niall Harnett both of whom remain in Castlerea Prison, removing key activists opposed to Shell’s pipeline and the giveaway of hundreds of billions of euro worth of natural resources, is a deliberate tactic used by the Gardai to assist Shell.”
He pointed out that Shell were this resuming work on their project.
“Quite clearly Maura was removed at Shell’s behest in an attempt to lessen legitimate protest against their activities.”
Shell has today lodged a new planning application for its raw gas pipeline.
The new plan was drawn up by Shell after the Irish state planning authority, An Bord Pleanala, found up to half of its second proposed routing for the onshore pipe was “unacceptable” on safety grounds, due to proximity to housing in Rossport, Glengad and Aughoose.
The proposed pipeline will still run over lands of at least five landowners in the Glengad area and several others in Lenamore, near Ballinaboy.
A section of the pipeline already laid up to the high water mark at Glengad, which had been deemed exempted development, has been included in the new application.
A new compulsory acquisition order for access to lands has been submitted to An Bord Pleanala.
Speaking following her release from Mountjoy, Ms Harrington as oil continues decimating the coast of Louisiana, a local Mayo fisherman, Pat O’Donnell remains in his jail cell for attempting another tragedy on Mayo’s coast.
“Pat has consistently tried to highlight the potential for mass pollution and destruction of the seas, that comes with Shell’s plans for north-west Mayo,” she said.
She also criticised the 26-County Minister of State for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan for stating that a Gulf of Mexico-type pollution incident could never happen in Ireland.
She pointed out that despite the Gulf pollution uproar, Ministers Conor Lenihan and Eamon Ryan had recently opened up a further area covering more than 250,000 square kilometers to the oil companies for exploitation.
“For Conor Lenihan to say that the oil companies current drilling programme 80km off the coast of Mayo will be “closely monitored” runs totally in contrast with our experiences for the last 10 years,” she said.
“The Government have let Shell away with illegally constructing pipe beside us here in Glengad, how are they going to watch what Shell are doing 80km out to sea?”
In relation to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Ms Harrington added: “A supposedly fail-safe device called a blowout preventer, failed to operate and resulted in the huge oil spill, and yet we’re supposed to believe Shell, that their fail-safe devices will always work and don’t pose any risk to our community.
“As we are currently seeing, it is the local communities that have to deal with the consequences when something goes wrong.”